The 4-ethylphenol (4-EP), 4-ethylguaiacol (4-EG), and 4-ethylcatechol (4-EC) concentrations were determined in 1.312 bottled wine samples from the German 'Wurttemberg' region by means of HPLC coupled with fluorescence detection. 4-EC was not detected in quantifiable concentrations in any of the samples analysed. 6.4% of the wines showed 4-EP and 4-EG concentrations over the detection limit of 16 mu g/L for 4-EP and 7 mu g/L for 4-EG. 1.8% of all wines were over the odour threshold. For white wines it was shown that 4-EG is the only tainting compound and that 0.3% of the wines contain 4-EG above the sensory threshold. The 4-EP and 4-EG contents averaged 17.7 and 4.7 mu g/L in red wine and 2.2 and 1.0 mu g/L in white wine, respectively. Based on the analytical results a statistical evaluation was performed to assess the impact of various parameters, such as wine type, storage, residual sugar content, etc., which are known to influence ethylphenol concentration. A significant difference between white wine and wine made from red grape varieties was observed. Wine stored for a long time period in wooden casks showed especially high ethylphenol content. Only a slight tendency was observed regarding the residual sugar, alcohol, total acidity and SO2 content. Based on our data, we cannot confirm the results published by some authors that varieties show significant differences with regard to their ethylphenol ratios. (We recommend that you consult the full text of this article).